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Nursing home abuse is on the rise in Georgia.  As AJC.com reports, the Georgia Counsel on Aging indicates that there has been a 65 percent increase in reported nursing home abuse between 2008 and 2012.  The problem is likely to only grow worse as the population ages.  By 2050, as many as 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be 65 and up. Many of these seniors are going to be cared for by low-paid and untrained workers in nursing home facilities that are overcrowded and understaffed. court decision gavel arbitration

Lawmakers in Georgia are trying to address the problem and provide more protections for seniors in nursing home facilities.   Northwest Georgia News reported on GA House Bill 72, which is designed to tighten elder abuse laws, close loopholes in existing regulation, and boost the tools that law enforcement officers have to fight elder abuse crimes.  If this bill passes, it could make a significant difference in how patients are treated and in what happens when nursing homes fail in their duties.

Nursing home residents need to be aware that facilities can be held civilly, as well as criminally responsible when abuse occurs. Victims of abuse should consult with an Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer for help pursuing a claim for compensation if they suffer harm.

New Georgia Elder Abuse Laws Could Protect Nursing Home Residents

Georgia Bill 72 would add greater protection against financial exploitation of seniors, and would make it possible for cases alleging elder abuse to be brought to trial in a more timely manner. A RICO provision would also be added in order for prosecutors to better target individuals and organizations who are part of an organized scheme to prey on the elderly.  These changes are important and could make a significant difference in the safety of residents living throughout Georgia’s nursing care facilities.

Georgia has approximately 1,800 licensed personal care homes. These facilities provide varying degrees of medical assistance and personal care service, as well as food and lodging.  There are also unlicensed facilities that operate care centers without complying with state regulations.  The number of complaints about unlicensed facilities in Georgia increased from 253 over the course of 2013 to 293 over the course of 2014.  Those in unlicensed facilities may be at the greatest risk of harm because those running the facilities do not comply with the rules. Frequently, facility operators even move residents to different locations to avoid being caught.

Those who are looking for a nursing home for themselves or other family members need to be sure the facility is properly licensed and does not have a lengthy history of complaints. If abuse does occur, residents and their family members need to take action to protect their legal rights.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in nursing home cases. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of Georgia nursing home abuse. 

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Medical malpractice has long been a hot-button issue as reformers routinely argue that limiting patient’s rights is one of the best ways to reduce healthcare costs. Tort reform advocates claim that the significant risk of lawsuits forces doctors to buy costly malpractice insurance. These expenses are then passed on to consumers in the form of higher healthcare costs.  Arguments are also made that doctors order more testing in order to reduce the risk of a lawsuit, which in turn drives costs up even further. hospital-corridor-2-65904-m

While these theories have largely been debunked, there are still efforts being made to curtail the rights of injured patients to sue doctors.  For example, as AJC.com reports, Georgia is currently considering legislation to overhaul the malpractice system despite fierce opposition from consumer advocates and questions about whether the proposed plan is even constitutional.

If you are injured by a doctor, you deserve to be fully compensated for all the harm that you endure as a result. An Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer can help you to pursue a claim to try to recover monetary compensation for losses.

Proposed Plan Would Overhaul Georgia Malpractice System

The new plan to overhaul the medical malpractice system in Georgia is found in Senate Bill 86, the Patient Compensation Act.  This Bill proposes to create a new administrative system that will handle all malpractice claims that patients make. The cases would be taken out of the courts, and the system would be the first of its kind within the United States.

The Patient Compensation Act would force doctors and providers to pay money into a fund to cover financial awards to patients who are injured by medical negligence.  However, the amount of money that a malpractice victim receives would be subject to strict limitations.

Supporters of Senate Bill 86 have made the same tired argument that costs of healthcare will be reduced because this new scheme would reduce the use of defensive medicine practices.  Supporters are also arguing that making the change to an administrative system would reduce the need for lengthy and expensive jury trials which many patients can’t afford. However, this argument has some problems on its face. First, attorneys generally take malpractice cases on a contingent fee basis so the plaintiffs don’t pay the costs of legal fees unless and until their case is resolved and money is recovered. Second, most cases are able to settle outside of court without the need for a lengthy jury trial.

Of course, a victim of malpractice is going to be better off if there is a little bit of a delay for a case to be settled or go to a jury if the patient ends up with full compensation at the end, rather than if the patient is quickly given a capped amount of money that doesn’t even fully cover losses.  This is why so many consumer advocates are speaking out against the proposed plan found in Senate Bill 86.

A similar bill failed last year, and hopefully will fail again since it deprives patients of their right to a trial by jury as well as of their right to full compensation for losses.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in medical malpractice cases. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of a negligent doctor. 

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Efforts to prevent truck collision often center around controlling the behavior of truck drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has imposed numerous requirements for licensing of truckers and has imposed strict limitations on the amount of time truckers can drive per week. While preventing drivers from unsafe actions is very important, drive behavior is not the only cause of truck collisions. truck

Inadequate truck maintenance and unsafe vehicles are also a major problem within the United States. The FMCSA does have requirements in place to ensure trucks are roadworthy, but it is difficult to enforce these regulations and a huge number of big rigs on the road are not actually safe to drive. When a truck crash occurs because of problems with the vehicle, an Atlanta personal injury lawyer can help victims or their family members to take appropriate legal action.

Poorly Maintained Trucks a Leading Cause of Atlanta Truck Collisions

Recently, the Post Gazette reported on the extent of the problems with truck maintenance in the United States. Around 14,000 people have lost their lives in crashes involving big-rigs and tractor trailers since 2009, and almost a 25 percent of those deaths involve trucks that had received previous citations for safety violations.

From 2009 to 2013, a total of around 390,000 collisions occurred involving big rigs. Far too many of these accidents occurred because of problems with brakes, tires with low tread; broken headlights; malfunctioning signals and other vehicle maintenance problems.

The problem of truck maintenance issues is more widespread than anyone wants to think about. On average, one out of every six trucks pulled over for inspection in the United States “was deemed so badly out-of-order that it was unsafe to drive.” Top problems leading to citations include:

  • Violations of local laws, which accounted for 1,834,850 citations.
  • Signals and headlights that do not meet requirements, which accounted for 1,466,874 citations.
  • Broken headlights and signals, which accounted for 1,381,950 citations.
  • Broken parts, which accounted for 1,152,071 citations.
  • Tires that had low tread, which accounted for 1,138,237 citations.

There are lots of reasons why trucks are not living up to safety rules. One issue is that there is inconsistent enforcement across different states. Since a large number of trucks travel across multiple state borders, the drivers may not be aware of or in compliance with all regulations. Some safety advocates suggest that a single enforcement system would help solve this. The federal government has launched a new safety scoring system called Compliance, Safety, Accountability, that has helped to draw attention to the issue of truck safety violations. However,there are currently no plans for a large-scale enforcement effort to ensure that al trucks follow safety rules.

Ultimately, truck drivers and trucking companies need to take responsibility for making sure that the vehicles they take on the roads are safe. If they fail in this duty, the trucking company and driver can be held legally responsible when accidents occur.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in truck accident cases. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of an Atlanta truck collision. 

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Most people make New Year’s resolutions around this time of year as they look forward to what they hope will be a great future. One of the most common resolutions that people make is to start exercising or to be better about their exercise routine. elliptical-trainers-489121-m

While working out should be good for you, sometimes it presents unexpected risks to your safety. This is true both if a gym fails to adequately maintain its premises and if gym equipment has design flaws. If you suffer an injury as a result of a failure of a gym or equipment manufacturer to live up to basic safety obligations, you should contact an Atlanta injury lawyer for help understanding your legal options.

Exercise Injuries Could Cause Atlanta Personal Injuries

Recently, the LA Times reported on injuries that were sustained by Senator Harry Reid. Reid was exercising in his home when a resistance band on the equipment he was using broke. The band hit him and caused him to suffer a fall. He struck other pieces of gym equipment on the way down.

The incident left him with several broken ribs and several broken facial bones. It made the newspaper because of the fact that it happened to a Senator.

While this incident was a high-profile one, the reality is that exercise injuries are very common and most victims do not end up getting their pictures in the papers.

The Health-I-Team reports that there has been a 45 percent increase in the number of injuries that result from the use of exercise equipment between the years 2007 and 2010.

Exercise injuries can happen anywhere, at both home gyms and public gyms. Public gyms have certain responsibilities to their patrons to keep workout spaces clean and in safe condition. If a gym fails to fulfill its obligations under premises liability laws, then customers are put at risk of getting hurt. When this negligence leads to an actual injury, victims can file a lawsuit to recover compensation for damages.

Often, however, it is not the conditions of the workout space that cause problems but is instead issues with the machines. This is likely what happened with Reid, and it is what happens with many others. Treadmills, in particular, have had problems in recent years.

In 2005, there were 16,700 recalls of treadmills that could cause their users to experience an electric shock. In 2007, there were 4,700 recalls of treadmills due to the fact the machines were starting on fire after getting over-heated. In 2008, there were 20,000 treadmills recalled when they began to speed up unexpectedly.

If exercise equipment is faulty and victims get hurt, the manufacturer should be held accountable.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience with defective product cases. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of an Atlanta accident. 

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Brain injuries are invasive injuries that can be devastating. Unfortunately, diagnosing brain injuries can be difficult. It can also be challenging to track the improvements that patients are making when they undergo treatment for brain injury. brain copy

Knowing the extent of the damage when a person suffers a blow to the brain is necessary for proper treatment. Injured victims also need to know how badly they are hurt so they can pursue a claim for compensation with the help of their Atlanta brain injury lawyer.

Fortunately, new research shows that eye-tracking may have promise in helping medical professionals  diagnose and monitor traumatic brain injury (TBI). Forbes reports on the research, which was published this December in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

Eye-Tracking Could Help Diagnose Atlanta Brain Injury Victims

Researchers at New York University’s Langone Meical Center developed new technologies that they believe will be able to help detect when a brain injury has occurred and where in the brain the injury is concentrated.

The technology was tested as part of a study involving 169 patients. A total of 157 of the patients was “neurologically normal.” Twelve demonstrated “specific abnormalities in cranial nerves controlling eye movement or brain swelling close to the nerves.” The damage to the brains of the patient involved nerves that affected the ability of the eye to move sideways, up and down.

Researchers had the 169 patients participating in the survey watch either television content or music video. The participants watched for 220 seconds and at the same time as they were watching the content, the researchers are measuring the ratio of horizontal to vertical eye movement.

In patients who are neurologically normal with no damage to the brain, the eyes moved vertically and horizontally at almost a one-to-one ratio. In other words, their eyes moved side-to-side and-up-and-down close to equal a number of times.

For the 12 participants in the study who had nerve damage to the brain, however, their eye movements had a different ratio. The aberrant eye movement ratios varied depending upon which of the nerves in the brain had suffered the damage. When patients with brain abnormalities had surgery to correct the problems that they were having, their eye movement returned back to the normal range.

This experiment clearly showed that the eye tracking technology has the potential to help doctors identify the location and extent of injury to the brain and to monitor how well the brain is improving. Not only can this improve treatment, but it can also open the door to more clinical trials. Clinical trials have been limited in the past because brain injury is hard to classify and quantitate.

Hopefully, this new advancement can help to improve the treatment that brain injury sufferers receive. Many brain injuries are caused by negligence, like dangerous drivers or unsafe conditions leading to slip-and-falls. Victims of these injuries deserve the very best in medical care so they have a chance of getting better.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in brain injury cases. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of an Atlanta brain injury. 

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Nursing home abuse takes many different forms, but one of the most dangerous types of abuse involves the overmedication of patients.  Patients with dementia are particularly vulnerable to this type of abuse, although it could happen to anyone who is living in a nursing home.  Abuse of medication can change a senior’s personality, increase the risk of falls, cause serious health conditions and even cause death. Yet, despite the risks, overmedication happens every day in nursing homes throughout the country. prescription-bottle---blank-label-991548-m

The problem stems from the fact that the behavior of some nursing home patients is difficult to control. This is especially true of patients with advanced dementia, as these patients may become anxious and aggressive. Staff members may not know how to deal with patients, or may not wish to expend the energy to provide appropriate care for troubled nursing home residents. Instead of providing adequate and appropriate care, patients are medicated with powerful anti-psychotic drugs to make them docile. An Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer should be consulted if this is happening to someone that you love who is in a nursing home.

Overmedication is a Common Form of Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse

Recently, National Public Radio (NPR) published a comprehensive report on the risks of overmedication in a nursing home setting.  According to the report, approximately 300,000 nursing home residents across the country are currently being treated with antipsychotic medications such as schizophrenia and bipolar drugs.  The majority of these nursing home residents do not have the medical condition that the drugs are actually approved to treat. Instead, the drugs are being given to patients to calm them down, quiet them down, and make them easier for nursing home staff members to deal with.

Dementia patients are especially likely to be prescribed these drugs. Around 88 percent of the claims that were made to Medicare to cover antipsychotic drugs for nursing home patients were for people who had been diagnosed with dementia. Because the medications are not actually approved to treat this condition, a campaign was started by the government that was supposed to lessen the reliance on antipsychotics for these vulnerable seniors. The campaign made the not-very-ambitious goal to reduce the use of these medications by a period of 15 percent over a year. This small reduction did happen, but it occurred over a two year period.  It also left many patients still being prescribed antipsychotic medications they do not need.

The problem is, these medications have a black box warning about the dangerous side effects, including an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, suicide and death. A patient who is drugged with an antipsychotic medication may also be at far greater risk of falling, which can lead to a broken hip or other serious and sometimes deadly injuries.

The patients these drugs are being given to cannot consent to the medications if they don’t understand the risks. Families are often kept in the dark about what is going on.  This is an egregious violation of patient rights as nursing home staff should not be drugging patients and endangering them just to make them easier to care for. If a patient suffers harm because of this type of overmedication, the victim or surviving family members can pursue a damage claim for nursing home abuse.

The Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in cases arising from overmedication and negligent nursing staff. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of Atlanta nursing home abuse. 

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Parents count on their car seats to protect children in the event that an Atlanta motor vehicle crash occurs. Unfortunately, not all car seats work effectively. When a car seat has a design defect or a manufacturing flaw, children are put at grave risk of injury. Manufacturers have an obligation to carefully test all car seats before they are released in order to ensure that there are no problems with the products. If a defective car seat does make it to the marketplace, the company must act promptly to recall it… hopefully before any kids suffer harm. car seat

Unfortunately, it appears that there is a chance the car seat manufacturer Graco may not have done what it was supposed to. If it turns out that the company failed its customers and that kids suffered damages as a result, parents may be able to sue with the help of an Atlanta personal injury lawyer.

NHTSA Investigates Car Seat Recall Process

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced that it is launching a special investigation into how Graco handled the recall of car seats the company had manufactured.

Graco has recalled more than six million defective car seats in 2014. This is described as “the largest child seat recall in history.” The car seats had to be recalled because they had a defect causing the buckles to stick or to get stuck in the latched position. This problem could create “an unreasonable risk to a child’s life in the event of an emergency.”

Graco did not institute this recall until it faced extensive pressure from the NHTSA. The agency believes that the company may not have acted quickly enough, despite the fact that it either knew or reasonably should have known about the serious problems with the car seats.

When motor vehicle equipment has a problem or a safe-related defect, the manufacturer must notify the NHTSA within a period of five business days. Since Graco did not do this, the NHTSA is investigating whether a violation of the law occurred.

If it turns out that Graco broke the rules, then the car seat maker could face penalties of as much as $35 million in fines. The GROW America Act, which is a four-year reauthorization bill, may raise this cap. Congress established the cap on civil fines assessed by the NHTSA and there is a proposal under consideration that would raise the cap to $300 million in civil damages.

Any fines that Graco is expected to pay to the NTHSA will be separate from the potential settlement monies or damages awarded to plaintiffs whose children suffered harm as a result of a problem with the latch on their car seats. Individuals and families affected by the defect will need to pursue their own legal action through a personal injury, wrongful death or mass tort case to get compensation for personal losses.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in cases arising from truck collisions. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of an Atlanta truck collision. 

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Truck collisions are often among the most serious or deadly of accidents due to the large size of tractors and other commercial vehicles. Everything possible should be done to prevent trucks from becoming involved in crashes and causing harm to motorists on the road. One of the most important steps taken in recent years has involved imposing stricter limits on the number of hours that truckers can be on the road. Unfortunately, the new rules on maximum on-duty hours and maximum drive time have been met with significant resistance. truck 2

A new survey commissioned by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition seems to indicate that motorists would prefer to keep strict limits in effect to ensure that tired truckers aren’t on the roads. When a fatigued driver does cause a collision, an Atlanta truck accident attorney can help those who are hurt to pursue a claim to receive monetary compensation for resulting losses.

Tired Truckers Could Increase Atlanta Truck Accidents

Under current rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers are limited to operating their vehicles for a maximum of 70 hours per week, after which time they must take a 36 hour rest break that includes two overnight periods.

Some U.S. Senators, however, are pushing to expand the number of hours that truckers can driver over the course of a week. According to The Hill, a proposed amendment to the Senate appropriations bill would increase the maximum limit on weekly hours to 82 hours per week. Other senators are fighting this and seeking to keep the limits where they currently are.

A recent survey found that there may be broad public support for continuing the lower limits. Around 80 percent of people responding to the survey said that they would not feel as safe on the roads if drivers of semi-trucks were allowed to drive for longer periods of time. When truckers have to operate their vehicles for too long, they may feel pressured to drive even when they are too tired to be safe.

A former administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has expressed concerns that truck drivers are effectively being forced to operate in “sweatshops on wheels,” because trucking companies place so much focus on getting them behind the wheel to complete their runs.

It is unquestionably clear that a tired trucker on the road is a menace to public safety. One high-profile truck crash that occurred this past summer involving the comedian Tracy Morgan illustrated the high costs of having people who are overtired on the roads. However, the American Trucking Association points out that when truckers are required to take overnight rest breaks, this means more trucks on the roads during the day when the traffic is higher.

The issue of trucker rest breaks is likely to be a hotly debated question for a long time to come, but the bottom line is that every truck driver should make the responsible choice and avoid getting behind the wheel when he’s too tired. If a trucker is fatigued and causes a crash, victims need to get legal help.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in cases arising from truck collisions. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of an Atlanta truck collision. 

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In 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down a law imposing a damage cap on non-compensatory damages in medical malpractice cases. Damage caps limit the amount of money that a patient can receive for non-economic losses caused by medical negligence. For example, if a jury determines that a victim has suffered $500,000 in pain and suffering but there is a damage cap of $350,000 in place, the victim cannot receive more than the $350,000.
Damage caps are an infringement on the right of medical malpractice victims to be fully compensated for the injuries and losses that they may suffer due to poor quality medical care. Unfortunately, these caps still exist around the country. Recent evidence suggests that when damage caps are put into place, they not only harm the patient who is unable to recover compensation but they also make the healthcare system worse for everyone. medical surgery

Medical negligence is a serious problem, with some estimates suggesting 200,000 or more deaths each year because of preventable medical mistakes. Malpractice claims help to ensure that healthcare providers are held accountable in situations where they fail to provide professional care. An experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer can provide assistance to those who wish to take legal action to pursue a claim for compensation after medical negligence occurs.

Tort Reform Can Worsen Healthcare Outcomes

Advocates in favor of capping malpractice damages argue that doing so will help to keep healthcare costs down. The theory is that by limiting the amount that must be paid after a medical mistake occurs, malpractice insurance costs will be lower and the savings will be passed on to consumers of healthcare.

Reality, however, does not match up with this theory. Not only that, but without the threat of an uncapped malpractice payout, providers may not be as careful as they otherwise would be. According to the Huffington Post, four different studies conducted in recent years have undermined the positions put forth by advocates of tort reform and shown how detrimental the impact of damage caps can be.

One study looked at Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) which are “standard measures of often preventable adverse events.” Patient Safety Indicators were developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and include post-operative mistakes; mistakes during surgery; hospital-acquired infections and birth errors. The research into patient safety indicators found that “patient safety generally falls” when caps are put into place. The decline in patient safety was described as “widespread,” and applied both to aspects of medical care that were likely to lead to malpractice claims as well as to aspects of medical care that were less likely to give rise to a lawsuit.

Another of the studies found that caps on damages could actually increase the cost of healthcare, contrary to popular belief.

Clearly, these studies provide yet more reason to be against any type of cap on damages that could affect patients who have been harmed. Patients who are victims of medical negligence deserve full compensation and should consult with an Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in cases arising from medical negligence. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of medical negligence. 

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When children receive gifts for Halloween or the upcoming winter holidays, the new toys and other presents should bring nothing but joy to the home. Unfortunately, sometimes toys turn out to be dangerous and they actually put children at risk of serious injury or even death. kid 2

An Atlanta defective products lawyer knows that the number of toy recalls have been declining in recent years, as safety efforts have improved and dangerous toys are more often identified before they are actually released to the public. However, risky toys could still make it onto store shelves. When kids receive gifts for Halloween or other holidays, parents need to be aware of how to check for recalls and should make sure that these new toys are safe before kids start playing.

Recalled Toy Dangers for Kids

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has made a strong effort in recent years to try to stop dangerous toys from being sold before kids receive these items and are put at risk. There is a toy safety system in place that requires all toys sold in the U.S. to undergo testing from independent laboratories located worldwide. If a shipment of toys comes to this country that has not been tested or that does not meet the required safety standards, the shipment will be stopped in port.

Over the past five years alone, U.S. Customs has worked with the CPSC to stop more than 9.8 million units of defective toys from coming into the U.S. More than 3,000 different types of toys were stopped in port.

Unfortunately, despite the success at keeping these dangerous toys out, some high-risk items have made it to the marketplace. In 2013, for example, a total of 31 toy recalls occurred. This was a significant reduction from the 172 toy recalls that happened over the course of the 2008 year. It is important to realize that this does not necessarily mean toy manufacturers are doing better; just that testing and screening are catching problems before the toys are sold.

The CPSC’s metrics focus on many different things, including the amount of lead that is in a toy. This helps to explain why there were no toys recalled due to excess lead in 2012, but there were 19 toys recalled in 2008 because of problems with too much lead in them.

Any time a dangerous toy reaches the marketplace, there is a risk of injury or death. In 2010, for example, there were 19 deaths due to toy defects. In 2011, there were 11 fatalities. In 2012, the number of deaths is expected to be higher as a result of the fact that more people are now reporting fatalities.

Parents need to know the risks and when a child receives a toy this Halloween or for other winter holidays, parents should check to determine if the toy has been recalled or not. The website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission provides information on the latest recalls and makes it possible for parents to look up whether their child may have received any gift that has been subject to a recall.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in cases arising from defective toys and products. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of a defective product.